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5/16/2012
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Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice

Does the next-gen iPhone's display size really matter? You bet, but size won't be the only big decision as Apple competes with Samsung, HTC, and others.

Apple will finally increase the size of the iPhone's display from 3.5 inches to "at least four inches diagonally," according to the Wall Street Journal. Citing unnamed sources, the Journal reports that Apple is ordering larger displays for the next-generation iPhone from LG Display, Sharp, and Japan Display Inc. This time the information comes from sources familiar with Apple's supply chain.

We've heard this report before. Many times, in fact, though most often from less-reputable sources. With the Journal throwing its weight behind the notion of an iPhone with a larger display, it's at least fractionally more likely to be legitimate.

Does the next-gen iPhone's display really matter? You betcha.

All the iPhones released since 2007 have had displays measuring 3.5-inches. The original iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS all had 320 x 480 pixels. Apple doubled that resolution to 640 x 960 pixels with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. The incredible pixel density of the iPhone 4/4S screens let Apple market their "retina displays" to consumers as superior to the competition. In terms of pixel density, at least, Apple's retina displays are incredible.

The resolution of the iPhone 4/4S screens was doubled for a reason: it made life easier for iPhone app developers. Developers could more successfully port their iPhone 3G/3GS apps to the iPhone 4/4S. What the Journal doesn't say is what resolution the new iPhone's screen will have. This metric is just as important as the size.

While the larger size will likely appeal to users across the board, Apple won't want to make things difficult for its legions of app developers. Some have suggested that Apple could boost the size to 4.0 inches and keep the resolution the same. The pixel density would drop, though it would still be a rich display.

At this point, Apple has to increase the size of the iPhone's display.

Competing smartphones that run Android and Windows Phone surpassed the 3.5-inch mark years ago. Many of today's devices ship with displays measuring 4.3 inches or more. Today's flagship Android phones seem to have settled on the 4.6-inch to 4.8-inch range for their displays, most often with 1280 x 720 pixels. Just look at the HTC One X or the Samsung Galaxy S III. These newer HD displays work well with HD content that is available from a wide range of content sources, such as the Google Play Store, Netflix, and others. They also look darned good.

As much as Apple might want to stick to its own guns with respect to screen size and resolution, it would be better for Apple's customers if Apple conformed to the 1280 x 720 spec that's quickly becoming the norm for high-end devices. Will it? Probably not, but we can always hold out hope.

Apple isn't expected to debut the new iPhone until later this year, most likely in October.

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ANON1237925156805
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ANON1237925156805,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/16/2012 | 10:27:45 PM
re: Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice
Regardless of pro or con opinion of Apple, the sales numbers don't lie. And they send Apple a VERY clear "no worries" message for the moment. It's a reach to say that Apple "must" do this.

In fact I'm with Melgros and Aladd in actively preferring the smaller form factor. The Android models with the most sex appeal and quality are too big for my small hands and don't fit in my little wallet on a string. That's one of the reasons that I've rejected them.

That said, for those with aging or challenged eyes, the smaller screen can be limiting. When you blow up the font size as needed, you've got a lot of scrolling to do. In the long haul Apple will be better off if it addresses the needs of these users as well.

Here's an out of the box idea: Why can't Apple have two current models? That way they can take credit for being right and also for being responsive for new trends in the marketplace.

Most likely scenario: WSJ sold a few papers and IW got a few people to click their computer mice and that's the end of it.
UberGoober
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UberGoober,
User Rank: Strategist
5/16/2012 | 7:25:25 PM
re: Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice
Apple could change nothing but the name once a year for the next 3 years and most AppleBots will continue to buy them.Apple loyalty (and, in my case, distaste) has less to do with specs than almost anything else.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
5/16/2012 | 5:43:48 PM
re: Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice
Certainly here in the US, Apple doesn't have a need for a giant phone. 4" is fine. As I posted above, the ranking of the iPhone in sales is number one, two and three. That's against all other smartphones sold in the US where all three of Apple's models are available.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
5/16/2012 | 5:41:33 PM
re: Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice
There's no reason why Apple should move to the higher Rez spec. That's mostly for purposes of marketing. I've yet to see one of those phones that have any real benefit from it. Apple's reason for going to where they did is a very compelling one. Moving higher has no compelling reason behind it, and has the same negatives it would have had when Apple came out with the Retina screen in the first place.

These giant phones are too big for most people, and we have to understand that even with those giant phones, Apple's phones are still number one, two and three in sales. What does that tell us? It tells us that neither giant screens or LTE is hurting Apple's sales.

So when they come out with an LTE phone without the poor battery life of current LTE phones, and a 4" screen with the same high Rez, the phone will sell like hotcakes.

Really, if one wants something with higher Rez and a bigger screen, go to a tablet.
Aladd
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Aladd,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/16/2012 | 5:03:09 PM
re: Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice
First of all, I don't think Apple has to do anything to the screen size. I've owned an Apple 3GS, 4 and now a 4S and I think they are fine. I realize that other companies are putting out jumungous phones with enormous screens that can only be carried around in a purse or European man bag but I don't carry either of those and I prefer a phone that fits in my pocket! I'm not even sure that Apple should increase the size of the screen relative to the current phone's footprint. Personally, I'd rather have a phone I can hold and see all of the screen as opposed to one that my fingers are covering larger portions of the screen because otherwise I can't hold it. All Apple "has to do to compete" is put in 4G and I'll buy the next iPhone. A longer laster battery and stronger glass would be wonderful additional improvements, but the only one that is a must is the 4G.

Of course I'm sure Apple knows this and has about 15 other things that I need in the new iPhone that I haven't even thought of yet, but that's why they are the leader.
HELNIL000
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HELNIL000,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/16/2012 | 3:16:47 PM
re: Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice
YES, Increase the screen...not the phone Plz!!
Yanping
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Yanping,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/16/2012 | 2:54:18 PM
re: Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice
The IPhone 4/4S is four times of pixels than 3G/3GS. Just do the math !
LetsReason
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LetsReason,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/16/2012 | 2:53:36 PM
re: Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice
I am happy to agree with the premise of this report: Apple needs to comply. Of course, while Apple is deluding its followers that somehow the "Retina Display" pixel density makes the lack of real estate acceptable, the rest of the world is allowing the market to decide "what is right". Meanwhile, Apple will somehow come to the revelation that 4 inches is the exact size you, the buyer is supposed to have. Other sizes are incorrect and the resolution and size they say is the way it should be. You will either agree or own an inferior product.

I will relish in the moment that Apple MUST confess to changing because the market demanded they change....not the other way around.
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